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Flat Chat

Floored by flawed thinking

Living underneath noisy wooden floors? That clattering of hooves you hear may just be an ill-informed strata manager running for cover.

QUESTION: I live in a unit and the people above installed a noisy timber floor. My strata manager gave permission but never informed me - if I had been asked I would have definitely objected.
I complained to the strata manager who asked the upstairs neighbours to put down rugs. They refused and have asked for a noise report. The strata manager says he can't use Owners Corporation funds to pay for the report because only one owner is complaining; it's a private matter between neighbours and does not involve the Strata Scheme.
But one of our by-laws states: "An owner of a lot must ensure that all floor space within the lot is covered or otherwise treated to an extent sufficient to prevent the transmission from the floor space of noise likely to disturb the peaceful enjoyment of the owner or occupier of another lot."
Why should I pay for a noise report when they've broken a by-law?
Floored, Lane Cove

ANSWER: Exactly! For a start your strata manager can't independently give or withhold permission for anything - he has to do the bidding of the Owners Corporation.
The advice he gave you that more than one owner has to complain is absolute rubbish. Your neighbours have clearly broken a by-law and you should take a complaint against them to the Office of Fair Trading. If your EC also gave approval you can include them in the complaint.
If you can prove that the strata manager improperly gave permission for the floor to be laid, you may also be able to take legal action against him for damages caused to the value of your home. And your EC might also want to get rid of him before he does any more harm.

By the way, all over the state, carpet showrooms are selling timber flooring, often with a nudge and a wink and the advice that once it's down, your neighbours can't do much about it. Considering the misery this causes, isn't it about time Fair Trading got a grip on this? How about ordering flooring salespeople to remind apartment owners to check their by-laws? How hard would that be?

First published SMH May 2007